Thursday, June 16, 2011

Couponing 101: Coupon Fraud

What is coupon fraud, and how does it happen? Is it really that serious? YES. Coupon fraud is very serious. Coupon fraud is using a coupon in any way it was not intended, and when you do so, the store you used it at will not get reimbursed for that coupon. It may not seem such a big dea, I mean its only a .50 cent coupon right? Wrong! imagine 500 people using that .50 cent coupon wrong, thats $50 that store loses because a few people didn't want to follow the rules. Coupon fraud is one of the reasons stores are now tightening up their coupon policies, so when you commit coupon fraud, it hurts everyone else. 

This was taken from and I could not have said it any better, so I am instead quoting it for you to read! 

What is coupon fraud?
This definition is taken from the Coupon Information Center:
Coupon fraud occurs whenever someone intentionally uses a coupon for a product that he/she has NOT purchased or otherwise fails to satisfy the terms and conditions for redemption, when a retailer submits coupons for products they have not sold or that were not properly redeemed by a consumer in connection with a retail purchase; or when coupons are altered/counterfeited. These activities are almost always in violation of Federal, State or local laws.

Why Understanding & Avoiding Coupon Fraud is Important
  1. It’s illegal!
  2. The Coupon Information Center has not lost a case since they began in May of 1986, so you don’t want to be up against them.
  3. 3-5 years in prison is a common sentence for committing coupon fraud (longest sentence: 17 years)
  4. Fines are often in the excess for $200,000 (highest fine: $5 million)
  5. Coupon fraud hurts everyone – the stores, the manufacturers, and  consumers.
So how do you commit coupon fraud? Here are a few ways you can commit coupon fraud:
  • Using 2 manufacture coupons for 1 item, unless otherwise stated in the coupon terms and conditions
  • Matching barcode numbers. This became popular after Extreme Couponing aired its permier in December. Because Extreme Couponing showed a person doing this, many have thought that you can infact do this, but you can not! Use each coupon only for the item(s) it allows. 
  • Making your own coupon. Its surprisingly easy to make a coupon with a good computer program, but I do not recommend it. If you happen to think it might be a good idea, just take another look at the penalty of coupon fraud! 
  • Making copies of coupons, either coupons from inserts or copies of coupons that you printed from the internet is illegal! Stores are checking the coupons now at the time of checkout, so make sure you know where your internet printed coupon came from!
  • Using expired coupons, unless the store specifically states in their coupon policy that they do accept expired coupons.
  • Using a coupon for a product or size excluded by the fine print on the coupon (e.g. using a coupon that says “excludes trial size” on a trial size product).
  • Using the coupon when purchasing a different quantity than specified on the coupon (e.g. using a coupon for $0.50/2 on a single product instead of 2).
  • Using a coupon any way other than how it is specified on the coupon.

Now as I told you, TLC's show Extreme Couponing did show one person commiting coupon fraud. Concerning that, this was also taken from and I find this very important to any new couponers who use the show as a guide to couponing:

On a side note… If you haven’t read, the Coupon Information Corporation and other industry experts have offered to work with TLC to make Extreme Couponing more educational and help them avoid teaching questionable and illegal techniques on their show.  TLC declined.  That tells me that they are more interested in the drama of the show, then actually teaching families to save.

So please know the rules, know how your using the coupon and be aware! I would hate to see anyone get in trouble for coupon fraud! 

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